Health | KCUR

Health

KCUR's health team focuses on health issues and their impact in Missouri and Kansas. Working with journalists at other public media stations and news outlets, reporters Dan Margolies and Alex Smith strive to bring listeners and readers timely, accurate and comprehensive coverage of a topic that leaves no one untouched.

Bryan Thompson / Kansas News Service

A brick building that was the only grocery store in St. John sits vacant, its glass doors covered with paper since it closed early last year.

St. John is the county seat of Stafford County in south-central Kansas — but it’s home to fewer than 1,300 people.

Now, the closest grocery store is 12 miles away, in Stafford.

St. John resident Amy Collins said that means meals and shopping require more effort.

“Now when we make a trip to the grocery store we are planning four, five … six days out in advance, so you have to be much more efficient,” she said.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

In the cooler section of any Whole Foods store or maybe the cup holder of your crunchy neighbor’s VW bus, you can find Kombucha, the yeast-fermented tea sold with some pretty over-the-top marketing claims.

Elana Gordon / KCUR 89.3

A provider of electronic health records systems for the U.S. Department of Defense is challenging the contract awarded to Cerner Corp. to develop the next-generation electronic health records system (EHR) for the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs.

A federal appeals court has sided with the state of Arkansas against Planned Parenthood, saying it can block Medicaid payments to the medical provider. It reversed earlier injunctions that forbade the state from suspending the money in the wake of a controversial leaked video of Planned Parenthood staff.

United States Mission Geneva / Wikimedia Commons--CC

President Donald Trump and Republican congressional leaders came up short in their initial efforts to repeal the Affordable Care Act, but former Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius says they’re still working to engineer its failure.

In a recent interview, Sebelius, who spearheaded implementation of the ACA, said she knows that the law isn’t perfect. But she said it would be working better if Republicans would stop undermining it.

“The notion that this law is imploding is just not accurate,” Sebelius said.

Celia Llopis-Jepsen / Kansas News Service

Kansas officials have cleared an initial hurdle in their effort to regain federal certification for Osawatomie State Hospital.

Problems that federal inspectors cited in May have been fixed, making the state’s largest mental health hospital eligible for a full recertification inspection, according to the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services.

That inspection must take place within the next 120 days, according to KDADS Secretary Tim Keck.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

One way or another, Tim Keck wants to replace the state’s aging Osawatomie State Hospital with a new mental health treatment facility.

Though he is meeting with some resistance, the secretary of the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services is pushing lawmakers to consider privatizing the state-run psychiatric hospital, which in recent years has been beset by operational problems.

James Dobson / Garden City Telegram

Shona Banda, a Garden City, Kansas, mother who drew national attention after losing custody of her son over her use of cannabis, has pleaded no contest to felony charges in exchange for probation.

Banda, who has Crohn’s disease, has been a vocal advocate of medical marijuana and self-published a book about her use of cannabis oil to treat her condition, an inflammatory bowel disease that can cause severe abdominal pain and other symptoms.

Women are more likely to die in complications related to pregnancy and birth in the United States than in other industrialized nations. A look at why — and what people are doing locally to change it.

Guests:

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Many health care advocates breathed a sigh a relief after the Senate’s recent efforts to scrap the Affordable Care Act failed in late July.

But local and national participants in a rally at Kansas City’s City Hall Wednesday afternoon had a message for those concerned about the fate of healthcare: Don’t let up.

Sylvia Maria Gross / KCUR 89.3

Dr. Daphne Bascom is the first physician on staff at a YMCA anywhere in the country. As senior vice president for community integrated health, she's leading the YMCA of Greater Kansas City into a new future.

"What we can do at the Y is help focus on prevention and help engage all of the services that are a part of our community," Bascom said in an interview with Gina Kaufmann on KCUR's Central Standard.

Google 2017

This story was updated at 1:47 p.m. and at 3:36 p.m. to include comments from the Putnam County prosecuting attorney and a spokeswoman for Missouri Attorney General Josh Hawley. 

What began as a routine audit of Putnam County took an extraordinary turn when Missouri state auditors uncovered what appears to be a massive, fraudulent billing scheme in tiny Unionville, Missouri’s lone hospital.

Amie May

Tammy Wilson loved the outdoors and was happy to spend her days working at Meramec State Park in the central part of Missouri.

Her family often stopped by to see her, most recently at the end of May

“My mom had two seed ticks on her hip – I believe it was her right hip,” says Wilson’s daughter, Amie May of Bonne Terre, Missouri. “And my sister pulled them off. A couple days later, mom said she just wasn’t feeling herself.”

frankieleon / Flickr - CC

While communities across the country deal with dramatic increases in illegal opioid use, statistics in Johnson County suggest rates of death and addiction closer to home are relatively more stable.

Court filings involving opioid offenses have remained relatively flat in recent years, and illegal use has decreased for hydrocodone and oxycodone, two of the most popular opiates, according to a report from public health and crime experts presented to the Johnson County Commission in June. Heroin use remains steady.

Despite those encouraging numbers, local officials are wary.

University of Kansas Hospital

Two area hospitals earned spots on U.S. News & World Report’s “Best Hospitals” list.

The University of Kansas Hospital was deemed to be the best hospital in Kansas and in metro Kansas City, while Saint Luke’s was ranked the second best hospital in Missouri, behind Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis.

Stormont Vail Hospital in Topeka was deemed the second best hospital in Kansas, the only other hospital in the state to earn top honors.   

Jennifer Tufts / KCUR 89.3

Vacant since 1972, the first black-owned hospital in Kansas City – where black doctors and nurses could practice medicine and receive advanced clinical training – sits decaying under 45 years of neglect.

Once a triumph of community-wide cooperation, the Wheatley-Provident Hospital remains on the city's dangerous buildings list for an eighth year. Absent a plan for its rehabilitation, it could be demolished by 2019.

Google 2017

This story was updated with new information at 4:13 p.m.

About 10 employees at the IRS Center on 333 Pershing Road complained of sickness this morning after coming into contact with a suspicious envelope left in the building.

Susanna Marking, a spokeswoman for the Federal Protective Service, a division of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, said the envelope smelled of ammonia. She said several people reported feeling ill with watery eyes and seven people were hospitalized. 

Andy Marso / KCUR 89.3

The director of the University of Kansas Cancer Center says it will continue to pursue “comprehensive” status after the National Cancer Institute denied it that coveted designation this week.

“We’re just going to be absolutely fearless in moving forward with this initiative,” says Dr. Roy Jensen, who has led the KU Cancer Center since 2004.

The National Cancer Institute (NCI) has denied the University of Kansas Cancer Center’s campaign for a much coveted “comprehensive” designation. But the center's certification as a nationally recognized center has been renewed for five years.

"We were disappointed but not surprised to learn that we did not receive comprehensive status,” Dr. Roy Jensen, director of the KU Cancer Center, said in a statement. “On average, it takes an NCI-designated cancer center 15 years to achieve comprehensive status, and we received our NCI designation just five years ago.”

Friday is Laura McQuade’s last day as president and CEO of Planned Parenthood Great Plains, based in Overland Park, Kansas.

She’s leaving to become head of Planned Parenthood of New York City. In her three years in the region, she has overseen Planned Parenthood’s geographic expansion – it now operates 12 clinics in Kansas, Missouri, Arkansas and Oklahoma – and the expansion of its health and reproductive services.

We take a look at the challenges of bringing quality healthcare to people in urban and rural communities, from a KCK clinic that serves the homeless to a program in a remote county that sends case workers to see patients.

Guests:

University of Kansas Hospital

The once-anonymous patient at the center of a whistleblower action filed against KU Hospital by one of its own pathologists is now suing the hospital herself for fraud, negligence and civil conspiracy.

From Oxford-educated surgeon to body-builder to Cerner executive, Daphne Bascom joins us to talk about the journey that now brings her to community health at the YMCA.

Plus, Dodge City, Kansas-native Robert Rebein just published a new memoir on his home state.

Guests:

Corbis / Flickr — CC

A lawsuit alleging the Missouri Department of Corrections systematically denies medical treatment to prisoners with chronic hepatitis C has taken a big leap forward after a judge certified it as a class action.

Alex Smith / KCUR 89.3

Ever since the Rock Island railway ceased operations in the 1980s, the town of Belle in central Missouri has been an isolated pocket, far from any city or major highway that might bring business through town.

“You’ve heard the term ‘one-horse town’? We’re pretty much there,” says Richard Huse, who grew up in Belle and is now a town alderman. “We’re 1,500 people. And like all the small communities around here, we struggle.”

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — Physicians will have to meet with women seeking abortions three days before the procedure and Missouri’s attorney general will have the ability to enforce abortion laws under the bill headed to Gov. Eric Greitens on Tuesday.

File Photo / Kansas News Service

Editor's note: This story was updated at 7:20 a.m. July 26.

Despite misgivings about the closed-door process used to write a bill to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act and its potential impact on rural health care providers, Republican U.S. Sen. Jerry Moran joined his Kansas counterpart, Pat Roberts, in voting Tuesday to begin debate on the legislation.

But a short time later, Moran was one of nine GOP senators who voted against a replacement bill backed by Republican leaders.

Luke X. Martin / KCUR 89.3

When Jordan Reeves was born, her mother was the first to notice something was different.

Jordan's mother Jen performed the typical finger-toe count moms do on their newborns and came up five digits short. The baby was missing the bottom half of her left arm, which stopped just after the humerus.

Amidst the chaos of the discovery, Jen and her husband found peace.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

Southwest Boulevard Family Health Care, a safety net clinic in Kansas City, Kansas, will reopen its Quindaro facility after several years’ hiatus.

The satellite clinic will be located in a church building owned by Family Health Care. Initially, it will be open a couple of half-days per week and, depending on demand, may increase its hours of operation.

Dan Margolies / KCUR 89.3

KU Medical Center on Thursday officially opened its new health education building, an $82 million, 170,000-square-foot facility that will serve as the primary teaching venue for its medical, nursing and allied health profession schools.

The state-of-the-art building, at the northeast corner of Rainbow Boulevard and 39th Street, was funded with $26 million in state money, $21 million from the University of Kansas Medical Center, $25 million from the Hall Family Foundation and the rest in additional private money.

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